LIVE: Day 7 of Suhakam inquiry into missing pastors, activist

14th Nov 2017

Chong will be giving his statement on his alleged abduction in Thailand.

Shortly after Koh was abducted on February 13, Chong had claimed he received a call from a man who said he had information on Koh’s whereabouts.

However, Chong then went missing for about 10 days, sparking a nationwide search. After he returned to Kuala Lumpur from Pattaya, Thailand, he claimed to have been abducted while in Hat Yai.

The inquiry is seeking to determine if the disappearance of Koh and three others – Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth, and social activist Amri Che Mat – are cases of enforced disappearance, a term for abductions carried out with the authorisation or support of the state or a political organisation.

The inquiry is also expected to hear statements from a Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) officer.

Yesterday, the inquiry heard testimony from Assistant Superintendent Supari Muhammad, who is the investigating officer in Koh’s case.

During his testimony, Supari said cameras along the route where Koh was abducted, as well as along the LDP highway, were not functioning.

His testimony prompted Koh’s family’s lawyers to accuse police of suppressing evidence and refusing to share CCTV recordings by claiming that all the cameras were not functioning.

Lawyers then asked Supari, who is the investigating officer for Koh’s case, if non-governmental organisation Perkasa has been investigated, and if the Malay rights group with links to controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik was involved in Koh’s case.

Supari says police have not investigated Perkasa, but agreed with the lawyers that the group is relevant to the case.

“I’m in the Criminal Investigation Department and take orders from my superiors. We will investigate if we receive any information.

“I agree (that people with extremist views should be investigated).”

Suhakam commissioner Mah Weng Kwai chairs the panel, which is also made up of Suhakam commissioners Aishah Bidin and Dr Nik Salida Suhaila Nik Saleha.

The Malaysian Insight brings you live updates from today’s hearing:

Former Petaling Jaya councillor Peter Chong at the Suhakam headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, November 14, 2017.
Former Petaling Jaya councillor Peter Chong at the Suhakam headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, November 14, 2017.

5.05pm: The inquiry ends and will resume at 2pm tomorrow.

4.55pm: Koh family lawyers ask Supari if he had checked all the CCTV at the 3km radius where Koh’s handphone signal was last received.

Supari said out of the 15 cameras they checked, 12 were in working condition while three were faulty.

“We checked the footage and didn’t get anything. We didn’t check all the cameras only the relevant ones.”

Lawyers then asked Supari if he had checked the CCTVs at the toll booths exiting Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

Supari said that he had checked the cameras at the toll booths but there were different views because of the positioning of the cameras.

“Some of the recordings were clear, some were not. We also didn’t find anything.”

4.45pm: Koh family lawyers ask Supari why the family only had updates on the Koh case through the media and announcements from former inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar.

Supari said if the family needed information, they could contact him.

“There is also Inspector June, who the family can contact for information.

“I have also told Koh’s daughter, Ester, that I will need to clarify information before updating them.”

Supari also disagreed that police failed to keep the family informed on the case.

4.30pm: Koh family lawyers ask Supari who was the person who had gone to Susanna Liew’s house on February 14, a day after Koh went missing.

Supari said this was the first time he is hearing about a person going to Liew’s home.

“I was not informed by anyone about this person. I will check on this.”

4.20pm: Supari tells lawyers and the panel that he made a mistake on the CCTV at Jalan Bahagia.

He clarified that the CCTV was working on the day Koh was abducted.

“I made a mistake. My task force officers said the CCTV was ‘negative’ which I thought was not working.

“However, we checked the recording and found that the vehicles involved in the abduction were not seen in the tape.

“Like I said before, there are many slip roads they could have taken.”

4.05pm: Koh family lawyers show Supari a YouTube video of a police operation with plainclothes and masked officers.

Lawyers ask Supari if this is what could have happened to Koh to which he replied there was a possibility.

3.45pm: Koh family lawyers ask Supari who had handed him photos of Koh, his house and number plate, as well as the four suspects who were arrested in connection with the case in Pengkalan Hulu.

The lawyers ask Supari if it was Bukit Aman that handed over to him the evidence and suspects, to which he replies, “No”.

Supari says it was inspector Toh, from Kedah, who had handed him the evidence and suspects.

3.30pm: Assistant Superintendent Supari Muhammad is called to take the witness stand.

3.25pm: Bar Council lawyers ask Zaaba what was the offence committed that led to Jais raiding DUMC, and what the purpose of the raid was.

Zaaba says it came under Section 10 (of the Syariah Criminal Enactment (Selangor) 1995, for insulting or bringing disrepute to Islam).

“I was informed by my superiors to go and check (following claims that) Muslims had been called to attend a dinner at the church.

“That is ‘menghina’ (insulting) Islam.”

3.15pm: Bar Council lawyers ask Zaaba if there were investigations carried out against the 12 individuals.

Zaaba says before investigations could be conducted, the Selangor sultan had said no one would be charged in connection with Jais’ raid on the church.

2.55pm: Suhakam officers ask Zaaba if the 12 individuals attended the counselling sessions, to which he replies, “Yes”.

The officers then ask Zaaba if Jais officers met or questioned Koh at the event.

Zaaba says he does not know Koh and has never met him.

The officers ask Zaaba about Harapan Komuniti, the event’s organiser.

Zaaba says he does not know about Harapan Komuniti.

Bar Council lawyers ask Zaaba if there is a video recording of the raid, to which he says there is a recording, but he does not know where the tape is.

2.45pm: Suhakam officers ask Zaaba if there had been any arrests at DUMC, to which he replies, “No”.

The officers then ask if statements were taken from people who attended the function.

Zaaba says only 12 individuals’ statements were taken.

“We asked the 12 Muslim individuals to fill up forms to attend counselling sessions.”

The officers then ask if there had been any action taken against the 12, to which Zaaba replies that no action was taken.

2.30pm: Suhakam officers ask Zaaba if it is Jais’ standard operating procedure to conduct operations with police.

Zaaba says it depends on the situation, adding that if there is a need to ensure safety, police will be called.

“If the need arises, then we will call police.”

The officers then ask if there had been any incidents at DUMC, to which he replies, “No”.

Zaaba says a police report was lodged at the Sea Park station after complaints were received.

2.20pm: Suhakam officers ask Zaaba what had transpired when Jais went to DUMC in 2011.

Zaaba says there was a thanksgiving dinner at the church.

“We went there with 12 Jais and 20 police officers.”

The officers then ask if Zaaba knew the organisers of the dinner, to which he replies, “No”.

2.10pm: Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) officer Zaaba Zakaria is called to give his statements.

1.05pm: The inquiry takes an hour’s break for lunch.

12.45pm: Koh family lawyers tell Chong that police had said that the ex-PJ councillor had nothing to offer in the Koh investigation.

Chong agrees with the lawyers, saying he did not get any information from his journey to Thailand.

“I went to get information on Koh, but that was not to be. Instead, I was being used to stop people from attending candlelight vigils.”

The panel then asks Chong why he had not informed his family, the Koh family or police before going to Thailand.

Chong reiterates that he went there to get information on Koh.

“If I had informed them, I would have been convinced to not go.”

The panel then asks Chong if, since his return, he had been approached by any person, to which he replies, “No”.

Commissioner Mah asks Chong whether he was acting as a “busybody” or a “Good Samaritan” when he went to Thailand.

Chong says he went there in good faith and as a concerned citizen.

Mah asks Chong if being held for seven days is a “figment of your imagination”, to which Chong replies, “No”.

12.20pm: Koh family lawyers ask Chong whether the people who detained him had spoken about Koh’s abduction.

Chong says they made it clear that they were not involved in Koh’s disappearance.

“They did not know about Koh’s abduction.”

The panel asks Chong if he had tried to escape from his captors.

“I didn’t attempt to escape as I didn’t want to risk it.”

12.10pm: Koh family lawyers ask Chong what his captors had spoken about.

Chong says he was questioned for two hours, and that there were breaks in between.

“Most of the questions centered around the candlelight vigils. We also had pleasant conversations. I was served tom yam and Thai tea.  

The lawyers then ask Chong if he had felt afraid.

Chong says he was initially not afraid, but got scared when he was told that he would be held captive.

“It was in the afternoon when they said they were going to keep me longer. There was an element of fear then.”

11.45am: Koh family lawyers ask Chong about a person who had approached him on a motorcycle on March 31 and asked about him frequenting candlelight vigils.

Chong says he was initially worried, but the words the motorcyclist used were not threatening.

Mah asks Chong if he was worried that he could be a target, following Koh’s abduction.

Chong replies that he was not overly worried.

Lawyers ask Chong if he had travelled alone to Thailand, to which he replies, “No”.

11.30am: Koh family lawyers ask Chong whether he knew the name of the person who sent him the WhatsApp messages and claimed to have information on Koh.

Chong tells the panel that the person was named “Amir”.

“Amir was also one of the people in Thailand.”

The lawyers then ask Chong if he has Amir’s contact information, and what the contents of the WhatsApp messages were.

“My reply to Amir was to confirm that he had information on Koh.

“The person said they knew about the DUMC (Damansara Utama Methodist Church) incident (in August 2011), and also about Harapan Komuniti.

“I don’t have his contact information as my phone was confiscated.”

11.25am: Suhakam observers ask Chong what transpired when he arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Chong says he was stopped by airport police and handed over to ASP Chua from the Dang Wangi police station.

“He took me to an office at KLIA and recorded my statement. I was released after that.”

Chong says he had asked the Thai embassy if he could lodge a report in Malaysia over his abduction in Thailand, but his request was denied.

He says a few weeks after the incident, ASP Muhammad Supari contacted him, asking that he attend an identification parade.

“I went to IPD Petaling Jaya and there were three sets in the identification parade, but I couldn’t recognise anyone.”

Chong says police did not inform their Thai counterparts or the Malaysian embassy in Bangkok about his abduction.

“I assume that police did not contact them.”

11.15am: Suhakam officers ask if Chong had lodged a police report on his abduction in Thailand.

Chong says he wanted to do so, but the officer had told him to go to Hat Yai to lodge the report.

“I didn’t want to go all the way back to Hat Yai to lodge the report. So, I decided to leave.

“I took a bus to Bangkok and left the next morning at 9am.”

11.00am: The inquiry takes a 10-minute break.

10.50am: Suhakam observers ask Chong how he was released.

Chong says he was taken by the two men and driven to Pattaya, where he was dropped off at a construction site next to a beach.

“The two men took my bag, and gave me 20 baht and bottle of mineral water.

“After they left, I realised that was in Pattaya because I was standing in front of Hilton Pattaya.”

Chong says he then walked for a bit and located a police station.

“I meet a Punjabi Thai police officer, who was helpful. He contacted the Malaysian embassy in Thailand, but it was closed.

“He then helped me contact my son. My son then booked at flight for me from Bangkok to return to Kuala Lumpur.”

10.30am: Suhakam observers ask Chong to describe the two men.

Chong says they were Malays who belonged to a group of Muslims out to promote Islam.

“While the two men asked me to stop the candlelight vigils, they disagreed with the abduction of Koh. They said the abduction sent a negative message about Islam.”

Chong says he was held for seven days by the two men and was released on April 15.

“I was treated well by the two men, and was given food and drinks. But, I was not allowed to leave the room.”

Suhakam observers ask Chong what they had talked about during the seven days.

Chong says as the days went by, there was less conversation.

“The two men, on the second day, said my son had lodged a police report as I had gone missing.

“I asked them if I could contact my family, but they denied my request.”

10.15am: Suhakam observers ask Chong what the two masked men had questioned him on.

Chong says they asked him whether he was organising the candlelight vigils.

“They asked me about the candlelight vigils, and they asked me to stop the vigils. I told them that I was not the one organising the vigils.”

Chong says he then asked the two men what information they had on Koh, to which they said they had no information.

“It was then I felt cheated. All they wanted me to do was discourage people from attending the candlelight vigils.  

9.50am: Suhakam observers ask Chong when he went to Thailand.

Chong says he left for Thailand on April 6 via a 10pm bus to Hat Yai.

“I reached Thailand at 6am. I was then met by a motorcyclist, who handed me note. The note asked me to follow the motorcyclist. So, I followed the person to a shoplot in Hat Yai town.”

Chong says he was then led to the back of a restaurant and up a flight of stairs to a room on the first floor.

“I was hooded before I entered the room, and my phone was confiscated. There were two people in the room, together with the motorcyclist.”

Chong says after 10 minutes, his hood was removed and the two men were wearing masks.

9.40am: Suhakam observers ask Chong about the information he got about Koh’s disappearance.

Chong says on April 6, he was contacted via WhatsApp by a person saying he had information on Koh.

“A person sent me a message, saying he had information on Koh and wanted to meet up with me.

“I don’t know the person, but he had details about me and the candlelight vigils I attended.

“There was an exchange of messages between us, and the individual asked me to meet him in southern Thailand.”

9.30am: Suhakam observers ask Chong if he has met Koh before, to which he replies “No”.

The observers then ask Chong how he found out about Koh’s disappearance.

Chong says he found out about it through church channels.

9.20am: Day seven of the public inquiry into missing Pastor Raymond Koh and three others resumes with former Petaling Jaya councillor Peter Chong taking the witness stand. – November 14, 2017.

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